I submitted a letter to the editor (LTE) at the Garrett County Republican in response to Carol Gnegy's letter I saw two weeks ago. My rebuttal was not published because I was told it did not meet the "guidelines" for a submission. I've written numerous LTEs over the years to the Republican News but it is under new management now. I rewrote and submitted a new letter with a request that it be published before the November 6 General Election. This issue is time-sensitive. If you've been unable to get something published in the Garrett County Republican, you can post it to the Engage Forum. SEE MY LETTER BELOW I’ve known Judy Carbone, Candidate for County Commissioner, for many years. We haven’t always agreed on issues facing our community, but I am certain that her belief in citizen engagement and her practice of engaging others have always been respectful. It’s clear from a Letter to the Editor published by you two weeks, “No respectful engagement”, that the letter writer doesn’t know Judy as a candidate nor as an individual. Judy’s career as an educator, counselor, leader and activist has benefited from her skills in listening, understanding different viewpoints, building consensus, and creating plans built on common vision. The very foundation of her robust public engagement platform is the belief that no single person nor isolated group of people have all the answers. We need to capitalize on the vast wealth of talent and wisdom in our community in planning for the County’s future. Criticizing a candidate for asking for more inclusive engagement is contrary to democracy itself. I would encourage voters to make their assessment about the level of Judy’s “respectful engagement” by asking her directly about her platform and ideas. In Judy’s many meetings with citizens, as a participant in community forums, and on her interactive Facebook page she has answered questions posed to her with specificity. Part of her insistence on hearing from others in addition to advocating her own ideas is her belief in building upon citizen input and citizen identified solutions in citizen-guided governance. Judy has a definite platform and has been very clear on her ideas on how to make local government more accessible, transparent and inclusive; on economic development that focuses on small business development, supporting existing businesses, and creating a vision that guides proactive targeting of growth markets instead reacting to opportunities that may one day appear; on improving workforce development by creating a culture of experiential career education at all levels; and on strong advocacy for our young people and creating a culture of inclusion, acceptance and less division. To answer the questions posed in the letter of two weeks ago, from my many conversations with Judy I know that she does understand…she understands the job of County Commissioner and the function of a representative government. She understands the complex and often divisive issues facing our community such as property rights, zoning, and the county budget. Judy understands because she listens to those with a stake in these issues, especially when there are varying interests, perspectives and desired outcomes. She understands precisely because she listens and engages respectfully. No respectful engagement? The title of this letter must be speaking of the letter writer’s choice to not engage with the candidate personally for a meaningful conversation about the issues. I hope she will contact Judy directly and learn for herself what I already know to be true…that Judy is a well-qualified candidate for Commissioner.